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State title eludes NMHS' Cinderella booters

Updated 1:28 pm, Saturday, November 24, 2012

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  • The Green Wave's Jen Millar during New Milford High School girls' soccer's state class 'LL' semifinal match vs. Newtown in Waterbury. Nov. 17, 2012 Photo: Norm Cummings
    The Green Wave's Jen Millar during New Milford High School girls' soccer's state class 'LL' semifinal match vs. Newtown in Waterbury. Nov. 17, 2012 Photo: Norm Cummings

 

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A state championship just wasn't to be this autumn for the New Milford High School girls' soccer side.

Yet, for a Green Wave squad which took its time this season finding its groove, the Class LL state tournament will always be a fond memory.

Coach Greg LaCava's 9-9-2 distaff kickers outplayed higher-seeded rivals three straight times before finally before bowing out 2-0 to South-West Conference foe Newtown in Saturday's state semifinals at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury.

Competing in the powerful SWC proved a challenge during the regular season, as coach LaCava and company managed but a 6-8-2 ledger.

Still, the relentless, tough games proved beneficial as the Green Wave teed it up for the state tournament.

"We struggled against SWC opponents all year," said the NMHS mentor. "The SWC is a strong conference historically and proving it again this year with three teams in state finals."

"After the regular season, the girls refocused and made a great run," he said.

The 26th-seeded Green Wave edged seventh-seeded Cheshire 1-0 on Nov. 10, and two days later ousted 10th-ranked Amity Regional of Woodbridge 2-1, advancing by virtue of a 3-2 edge in penalty kicks.

In the state quarterfinals, the NMHS girls spoiled the dreams of previously unbeaten and second-ranked Middletown, 1-0, again holding a 3-2 PK cushion.

Much of the success of the team during that tournament win streak was attributed to the goalkeeping of Ali Rettenmeier and the ubiquitous defensive presence of Julia Valentine.

Faced then with the prospect of dueling SWC rival Newtown in Saturday's semifinals, the Green Wave permitted a pair of first-half goals to the sixth-seeded Nighthawks and weren't able to climb back from the deficit.

Just a year after the 2011 edition of Green Wave girls' soccer etched its name forever in NMHS sports annals with a South-West Conference championship, this fall's NMHS booters now have their own claim to local fame.

"We had a great core coming in from last year's SWC champions, but we struggled with playing with a giant bullseye on our backs." said coach LaCava.

The Green Wave will lose four players to graduation -- Madison Ranno, Ali Rettenmeier, Claudia Taylor and Julia Valentine, several anchors to the team's defense.

Still, coach LaCava is optimistic.

"We hope to be back near the top again next year," he said. "I am excited already for next year."

Yet the NMHS squad isn't quite ready to put behind it a stirring state tournament effort.

"I am pleased overall with this group. They are coachable and they have a desire to win," said coach LaCava. "They just wouldn't let go, kept fighting hard to extend our season."

For more photos, see www.newmilfordspectrum.com.

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